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Trustmark's profits soar on fewer bad loans, Florida acquisition

JACKSON — Trustmark Corp. said profits rose strongly in the first quarter as the bank set aside less for bad loans and earned a windfall on buying a Florida bank.

The bank said it earned $30.3 million, or 47 cents per share, in the quarter that ended March 31. That’s 26 percent higher than the $24 million, or 37 cents per share, Trustmark earned in 2011’s first quarter.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast 39 cents per share, on average.

Trustmark’s non-interest revenue rose 20 percent to $43.8 million. That was aided by $2.8 million gain on the purchase of Bay Bank & Trust of Panama City, Fla. Once merger expenses were factored out, the bank showed an accounting gain of $1.2 million, or 2 cents per share. Revenue from mortgage and insurance operations also increased.

Trustmark completed the purchase of the Florida bank March 16. Even though existing Florida Panhandle branches had incurred a disproportionate share of Trustmark’s losses during the financial crisis, the bank said it wanted to increase its market presence there. The bank also has locations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

The bank, with $9.9 billion in assets, said it cut the amount that it is setting aside for bad loans to $3.3 million in the quarter, down from $7.5 million a year ago and $6.1 million in the last three months of 2011.

“Credit quality continued to improve,” president and CEO Gerard Host said in a statement.

Host said Trustmark had also invested in new ATMs to better serve customers.

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